KALMAH - 12 Gauge [Review]

Album: 12 Gauge

Melodic Death Metal

Release Date: February 24th, 2010

Spinefarm Records

Reviewer: Spirit Crusher

Look at that! It’s on the shelf over there! Is it Children of Bodom? Is it Norther? Is it Nightwish? No, it’s KALMAH! Kalmah are back with their latest album, 12 Gauge. I will admit, I thought that the album would be more or less a disappointment, compared to their older work. I enjoyed For the Revolution, but felt it lacked something. 12 Gauge reminded us all why we love Kalmah.

Sound: The first track, Rust Never Sleeps, starts off with an acoustic introduction with a trumpet section (or at least that’s what the studio videos portray). Sounds a little like Enisferum, but when the guitars come in, you get that awesome thrash blast beats and riffs, and beautiful melodic choruses! Pekka Koko’s vocals are as versatile as ever! Title track, 12 Gauge shows off his lower growls, but One of Fail shows his high screams which were more evident in their older albums. Marco Sneck continues to dazzle me with his amazing keyboard parts (sorry, Janne). I really enjoyed the solos and leads he played, especially on One of Fail. Speaking of solos, Antti Kokko does a FANTASTIC job with the solos.

I think the solo on Bullets are Blind is a little weak, but it’s one of those solos that aren’t elaborative because the riff itself sounds awesome behind it. However, the solo in the title track is EXCELLENT. It reminds me a lot of Alexi Laiho’s solo in “Deadnight Warrior”; short, sweet, technical, and melodic. Final track of the album, Sacramentum is probably the “black sheep” of the album. The song is a little longer than the rest, and the music (especially the keyboards) seem to fit into something that blends Amon Amarth and Ensiferum together. It sounds really good, so I’m not going to complain about it at all.

Lyrics: Kalmah will always be known as a legendary band from Finland’s wave of melodic death metal (and metal in general). However, in my opinion, the weakest element of the album is the lyrics. Kalmah were never known for their lyrics, but their music. Regardless of that, I had to point it out. One of my favorite songs on the album, One of Fail, definitely fails with its lyrics:
“One of fail, Master Jack is my true name. To prevail I am breaking my balls”
"Don't call me sexy, I'm angry"

(On the other hand, this song has some of the most AMAZING guitar and keyboard solos and harmonies, so don’t disregard it)

Last words:

All in all, this is an excellent comeback album by Kalmah, especially after many worried a complete change in Kalmah’s musical direction, after For the Revolution. Sure, the lyrics are weak, but that’s what Insomnium are for! Any musician and music lover would appreciate this album one way or another. As a guitarist, the riffs, leads, drums, and overall song structures are great. I bought it on iTunes and I would pay thrice the price for this album.

Personal favorites: One of Fail, 12 Gauge, Rust Never Sleeps
Safety songs: Rust Never Sleeps, Bullets are Blind
Wild card: Hook the Monster, Sacramentum

"…a great comeback from Kalmah! This album has tracks that will be on my list of favorite Kalmah songs along with their older material. It’s not exactly what they were back in Swamplord, but any melodic death metal fan will recognize this as Kalmah."